Mosquitoes! Those vampiric little demons, sucking out our life blood and replacing it with itchiness, welts, and about a thousand other plagues, have ruined my ability to go into my backyard from May through October. Who cares if you have cool names like “Asian Tiger” and “Cattail,” mosquito? You make puppies sick! You kill around one million people EVERY YEAR! You’re just no good.
Experts say that one in 10 people are super attractive to mosquitoes. As a member of that 10%, and someone who is averse to putting highly toxic chemicals all over the skin, I’ve been conducting a one-woman experiment in natural, safe mosquito repelling for over 10 years. Here’s what I’ve figured out for me and my family that keeps mosquitoes from finding us delicious:
To fight our foe we have a 3-pronged battle plan.
- Preparation. About 20-30 minutes before we go into a Potential Mosquito Situation (PMS – ha!), we take a B Complex vitamin. I discovered this completely by accident one summer, when I noticed a mosquito approach my arm, hover over it, and then fly away. It clicked in my brain (call it intuition) that I’d just taken a B Complex, which does make pee smell really weird. Maybe I smelled weird to the mosquito! Through trial and error (the error mostly being me forgetting to take the B complex, then getting eaten alive), I figured out that B Complex keeps mosquitoes off of me. It works for my daughter, too. “Well,” you may be saying, “perhaps you have some sort of mutant genetic makeup that causes this to work.” To that I say, “Perhaps!” But there’s also this: a study done that showed that B1 (thiamine) makes you smell bad to female mosquitoes, the ones that bite. I haven’t tested just taking B1 since I personally need the most complex of Bs, and this works for me and mine. If anyone wants to take this experiment a little further and just take B1, please report back! I’d love to hear what you find out.
- Diet. I love my carbs, and sweets, and everything else that breaks down quickly into sugar in the bloodstream. So do mosquitoes. They love me like whoa after I’ve eaten a carb-heavy meal, had a glass of wine, or had something really sweet. On days when my diet has been more in alignment with a healthy, balanced, nutritious meal plan, the mosquitoes are noticeably not as interested in me. They’ll quickly find someone else close by who tastes sweeter and will give that poor soul all their nasty attention. And that’s what it’s all about – just like you only have to run faster than the slowest gazelle in the pack, you just have to be a little less sweet than the guy next to you to avoid the brunt of the attack.
- Aromatherapy spray. I have a 32 ounce spray bottle ready at all times full of a mosquito, tick, gnat, and flying nuisance-repelling aromatherapy spray that I developed before my daughter went on a camping trip in a Northeast forest one spring. I got reports back from the leaders and her fellow scouts that the spray kept the bugs away under pretty bug-infested conditions. When sprayed liberally over the skin, hair, and clothes the mosquito-repelling spray seems to keep everything off of me and my family about 90% of the time on its own. Combining the spray with the B vitamin preparation step brings that to 95% mosquito-bite free. Take it all the way with the low-carb, low sugar diet, and we are mosquito bite free about 99% of the time.
A few more tips: the CDC recommends not going out during dawn or dusk hours to avoid the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus. It also recommends repellent and covering up.
Here’s my recipe for Aromatherapy Mosquito and Tick Repellent:
Put all or a combination of the following essential oils into a 8 ounce spray bottle, then fill with distilled water. You’ll want from 16 drops for a milder repellent to 32 drops for a strong repellent. Shake before each use. You will need to reapply this spray every 10 minutes for maximum coverage and effectiveness, especially if you are being active. Use therapeutic grade essential oils for best results. To make 32 ounces like I do just multiply everything by 4.
These oils work very well together to repel mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, biting flies, even lice.
What if I do everything right and get bit anyway? Do I have to suffer through days of itchiness? I can’t be battle ready all the time. I have life going on all around me, and do get bitten by mosquitoes even at times when I can’t figure out how on earth they got to me. For those times I have a magical secret weapon that neutralizes the sting, itchiness, and welts caused by the bite. That hard working little helper is Roman Chamomile essential oil. Roman Chamomile has a high ester content which makes it gentle and safe to use directly on the skin*. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory, and is very calming (hence drinking chamomile tea to ease you to sleep).
These photographs show how quickly Roman Chamomile works on my skin to relieve the effects of a mosquito bite. I applied the essential oil directly to the bite within 5 minutes of getting bitten. All signs of getting bitten were gone within two hours. No itching, no spot, nothing but unblemished skin where the bite used to be. Excuse the quality of the photos. I was doing these myself with my phone. You still get the general idea.
My daughter has the same response to applying Roman Chamomile to her bites. I’ve tried it on several friends and a few children (one who calls it my “flower medicine”) who have had good success with it as well. One friend gets horrible raised, hard welts from mosquito bites that last for weeks. I tried it on her to test it under extreme situations. The Roman Chamomile took away the itch and reduced the size of the welt which made her very happy, but she did not experience the same total relief as I do. She would probably respond better to a blend of essential oils to address her more severe reaction to the bites.
We all have different body chemistry and can react differently to remedies depending on so many variables. I’d recommend seeking guidance from a trained aromatherapist before using essential oils, especially directly on the skin.
What home remedies for mosquito bites have you discovered?
* Always skin test essential oils on an insensitive part of the body when using them for the first time, especially on children.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any disease or condition, nor is it intended to prescribe in any way. This information may not be complete, nor may its data be accurate. Use essential oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Use extreme caution when using oils with children and give children only the gentlest oils at extremely low doses. It is safest to consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner before using essential oils with children.